Animal Rights Collective Blog

“Green” Eggs and Ham? by christine

For those of you that missed his presentation at the UPC Conference, Vasile Stanescu blew more than a few peoples’ minds as he presented his academic discourse on the myths of the locavore movement.

“The essay confidentially identifies and lays bare the faulty reasoning that underpins the increasingly popular locavore movement, and makes explicit the need for truly progressive causes to seriously consider the intersections of speciesism, gender, race, class and citizenship on the national and global level.” – Dr. Richard J. White, Journal for Critical Animal Studies

“Green” Eggs and Ham? The Myth of Sustainable Meat and the Danger of the Local

Vasile Stanescu, Journal for Critical Animal Studies

In the New York Times bestseller, The Omnivores Dilemma, Michael Pollan popularizes the idea of a “local” based diet, which he justifies, in part, in terms of environmental sustainability. In fact, many locavores argue that a local based diet is more environmentally sustainable than a vegan or vegetarian diet and concludes that if vegans and vegetarians truly care about the environment they should instead eat sustainably raised local meat. However locavores are incorrect in their analysis of the sustainability of a local based diet and in its applicability for large scale adaptation. Instead locavores engage in the construction of “a literary pastoral,” a desire to return to a nonexistent past, which falsely romanticizes the ideals of a local based lifestyle. They therefore gloss over the issues of sexism, racism, speciesism, homophobia and anti-immigration sentiments which an emphasis only on the local, as opposed to the global, can entail. In this manner the locavorism movement has come to echo many of the same claims that the “Buy American” movement did before it. The conclusion is that a local based diet, while raising many helpful and valid points, needs to be re-understood and rearticulated.


Reportback: Save the Frogs Protest of Frog Consumption by christine

On Saturday, September 4th protestors of all ages took to the streets to demand that Uncle Julio’s Rio Grande Cafe stop selling frog legs. Not only does the consumption of frogs deplete wild populations, but it also causes the spread of infectious diseases and invasive species. Currently, one-third of amphibian species are threatened with extinction, and over 200 species have disappeared in recent years.

From the Save the Frogs website:

“Supporters of the environmental conservation group Save The Frogs congregated outside the Uncle Julio’s Rio Grande Café in Arlington, Virginia yesterday to protest the restaurant chain’s sales of frog legs. Far from your ordinary protest though, the majority of the protesters were under the age of 13. Eight middle and elementary school students joined two George Mason University students and five others to raise awareness of the rapid disappearance of frog species worldwide — and the Rio Grande Café’s contribution to the problem. This was the largest protest in defense of frog populations in the planet’s history, and signifies a growing movement to save the world’s remaining amphibian species, one-third of which are on the verge of extinction.

These farm-raised bullfrogs are known carriers of a deadly skin disease called chytridiomycosis, which has caused the extinction of up to 100 amphibian species worldwide. As well as spreading the deadly chytrid fungus, the bullfrogs are harmful invasive species. Being farmed around the world has allowed them to invade 15 countries outside their native range, where they eat native frogs and other wildlife, damaging ecosystems.

Amphibians are faced with an onslaught of environmental problems, including climate change, pollution, infectious diseases, habitat loss, invasive species, and over-harvesting for the pet and food trades.”

Learn more and sign the petition!

WVBS for Gulf Coast Wildlife by christine

ARC had a small Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale in the midst of finals. We still had some yummy vegan treats though, including mini banana bread loaves with coconut topping, organic apple muffins, toasted coconut or vanilla cupcakes, and “buttery” chocolate-chip oatmeal cookies. The proceeds went to grassroots wildlife rescue along the Gulf Coast in response to the devastating BP oil spill. Thanks to everyone that donated and helped out! This oil spill is far worse that the notorious Exxon-Valdez spill of 1989, releasing that same amount of oil as that disaster – every four days! Find out more, and boycott BP!

Donate to wildlife rescue efforts in the Gulf coast!

Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research and the International Bird Rescue Research Center.

A Brown Pelican being washed at the Fort Jackson, Louisiana rescue center. Photo from Tri-State Bird Rescue and International Bird Rescue Research Center.

The National Geographic Channel will air a documentary on the Deepwater Horizon blowout which sent oil gushing towards the coastlines oof Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, and Alabama. “Gulf Oil Spill,” Thursday May 27th at 9pm, more info.

Save the Frogs! Film Screening by christine
April 13, 2010, 10:04 pm
Filed under: AR Event, ARC Events, Campaign, For the Environment, Video | Tags: , ,

Learn more about amphibians and their vital role on earth, join us Wednesday night to watch the PBS documentary “The Thin Green Line.”

Frogs are the most threatened group of animals on the planet and are rapidly going extinct due to human activity. Nearly one-third of the world’s 6,450 amphibian species are in danger of extinction and up to 200 species have completely disappeared in the last 30 years.

When: April 14, 2010 – 7:00 pm
Where: Student Union II Ballroom

To learn more about amphibian conservation, visit Save the Frogs!

Real Environmentalists Don’t Eat Meat by christine

Last week the Washington Post ran two articles focusing on the devastating impacts that the meat industry has on our environment. Respect Mother Earth, go vegan!

According to the Washington Post:

Animal manure is one of the country’s biggest environmental problems. In the Chesapeake Bay, it surpasses all of the region’s sewer plants combined as the source of nitrogen and phosphorus, two pollutants that cause low-oxygen “dead zones.”

Manure becomes pollutant as its volume grows unmanageable

By David A. Fahrenthold

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, March 1, 2010; A01

Nearly 40 years after the first Earth Day, this is irony: The United States has reduced the manmade pollutants that left its waterways dead, discolored and occasionally flammable.

But now, it has managed to smother the same waters with the most natural stuff in the world.

Animal manure, a byproduct as old as agriculture, has become an unlikely modern pollution problem, scientists and environmentalists say. The country simply has more dung than it can handle: Crowded together at a new breed of megafarms, livestock produce three times as much waste as people, more than can be recycled as fertilizer for nearby fields.

That excess manure gives off air pollutants, and it is the country’s fastest-growing large source of methane, a greenhouse gas.

And it washes down with the rain, helping to cause the 230 oxygen-deprived “dead zones” that have proliferated along the U.S. coast. In the Chesapeake Bay, about one-fourth of the pollution that leads to dead zones can be traced to the back ends of cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys.

Despite its impact, manure has not been as strictly regulated as more familiar pollution problems, like human sewage, acid rain or industrial waste. The Obama administration has made moves to change that but already has found itself facing off with farm interests, entangled in the contentious politics of poop.

In recent months, Oklahoma has battled poultry companies from Arkansas in court, blaming their birds’ waste for slimy and deadened rivers downstream. In Florida, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed first-of-their-kind limits on pollutants found in manure.

In the Senate, Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) has proposed a bill that would allow farmers in the Chesapeake watershed to cut pollution more than required and sell the extra “credits” to other polluters. The EPA, in the middle of an overhaul for the failed Chesapeake cleanup, also has threatened to tighten rules on large farms.

“We now know that we have more nutrient pollution from animals in the Chesapeake Bay watershed” than from human sewage, said J. Charles Fox, the EPA’s new Chesapeake czar. “Nutrients” is the scientific word for the main pollutants found in manure, treated sewage, and runoff from fertilized lawns. They are the bay’s chief evil, feeding unnatural algae blooms that cause dead zones.

Around the country, agricultural interests have fought back against moves like these, saying that new rules on manure could mean crushing new costs for farmers.

“It’s clearly going to put a squeeze on people that they’ve always said they didn’t want to squeeze,” including family-run farms, said Don Parrish of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The story of manure is already a gloomy counterpoint to the triumphs in fighting pollution since the first Earth Day in 1970. An air pollutant that causes acid rain has been cut by 56 percent. By one measure, the output from sewage plants got 45 percent cleaner.

But, according to Cornell University researchers, the amount of one key pollutant — nitrogen — entering the environment in manure has increased by at least 60 percent since the 1970s.

“We’ve dealt with the kind of conventional pollutants,” that helped spark the first Earth Day, said Donald F. Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. “Now, we see the things that are eating our lunch, if you will, are natural products . . . that are just overloading the system.”

The reasons for manure’s rise as a pollutant have to do, environmentalists say, with a shift in agriculture and a soft spot in the law.

In recent decades, livestock raising has shifted to a smaller number of large farms. At these places, with thousands of hogs or hundreds of thousands of chickens, the old self-contained cycle of farming — manure feeds the crops, then the crops feed the animals — is overwhelmed by the large amount of waste.

The result in farming-heavy places has been too much manure and too little to do with it. In the air, that extra manure can dry into dust, forming a “brown fog.” It can emit substances that contribute to climate change.

And it can give off a smell like a punch to the stomach.

“You have to cover your face just to go from the house to the car,” said Lynn Henning, 52, a farmer in rural Clayton, Mich., who said she became an environmental activist after fumes from huge new dairies gave her family headaches and burning sinuses. The way that modern megafarms produce it, Henning said, “Manure is no longer manure. Manure is a toxic waste now.”

In the water, the chemicals in manure don’t poison life, like pesticides or spilled oil. Instead, they create too much life, and the wrong kinds.

“You get Miracle-Gro for your water,” said David Guest, a lawyer for the group Earthjustice who has fought for tougher limits on pollution in Florida.

The chemicals in manure serve as fertilizer for unnatural algae blooms. They drain away oxygen as they decompose. Scientists say the number of suffocating dead zones — oxygen-depleted areas where even worms and clams climb out of the mud, desperate to respire — has grown from 16 in the 1950s to at least 230 today. The Chesapeake’s is usually the country’s third largest, after the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Erie.

The law, however, has treated manure and other agricultural pollutants differently than pollutants from smokestacks and sewer pipes.

The EPA does not set a hard cap on how much manure can wash off farms, instead issuing guidelines that apply only to the largest operations. There, the rules might limit how much manure farmers can spread on individual fields, for instance, or order them to plant grassy strips along riverbanks to filter manure-laden runoff. Even that level of regulation has only been in place since the 1990s.

But now, the EPA has signaled an intent to tighten its grip.

Last Monday, the agency announced that reducing manure-laden runoff was one of its six “national enforcement initiatives.” New rules went into effect in December that will impose even tighter restrictions on large farms.

Last fall, the U.S. Department of Agriculture also considered a change to its guidelines, which would have limited the amount of manure farmers could apply to their fields. But then it scrapped that idea, saying the issue needed more study.

Last week on the Eastern Shore, where farmers raised 568 million chickens last year, the problem of excess manure was still big enough to see from the road.

“See how dark that one pile is? That’s chicken manure,” said Kathy Phillips, 61, an environmental activist who patrols the peninsula for piles of manure stored outdoors. As a steady rain fell, she said that pollutants were probably leaching off that mound — as tall as a van and the color of dark-roast coffee– and into ditch water that would eventually reach the Pocomoke River, then the Chesapeake.

Phillips usually surveys these piles from the air. She has a mental map of dozens of these off-smelling mounds.

“I don’t want to be the Poop Lady,” said Phillips, who got into environmentalism because she loved to surf Ocean City’s beaches. “But, you know, somebody had to talk about this. It’s like this dirty little secret.”

A few miles north, the poultry giant Perdue has come up with one way to dispose of excess manure. At a $13 million plant outside Seaford, Del., tons of poultry manure are dried, heated to kill off bacteria and compressed into pellets of organic fertilizer that is sold to golf courses or homeowners.

“This is sort of a reverse chicken,” said Perdue spokesman Luis Luna, as bulldozers moved manure below. “In a chicken, the food goes in and the poop goes out. Here, the poop comes in and the plant food goes out.”

That helps Chesapeake’s manure problem, but it isn’t the whole solution. Luna said there is enough manure on the Shore to keep more plants like this running– but Perdue isn’t planning to build more yet. So far, the fertilizer doesn’t sell well enough to make that cost-effective.

See article here.

Perdue, poultry farm sued for polluting Chesapeake Bay

By David A. Fahrenthold

Washington Post Staff Writer

Tuesday, March 2, 2010; 10:45 PM

Environmental activists filed suit Tuesday against the poultry giant Perdue Farms and an Eastern Shore farm where Perdue chickens are raised, contending that the farm is polluting the Chesapeake Bay with manure-laden runoff.

The suit, filed by the Assateague Coastal Trust, says that water flowing off the farm near Berlin, Md., carries high levels of bacteria, as well as pollutants blamed for the Chesapeake’s “dead zones.” Environmentalists said they think the farm’s owners store chicken manure in large outdoor piles near ditches, where it is likely to run off with the rain.

See full article here.


To learn more about how meat wastes land, water, food, rain forest, and energy resources, click here.